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Pain and emotional distress have a reciprocal relation. The amygdala has been implicated in emotional processing. The central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) receives nociceptive information from the dorsal horn of spinal cord and is responsible for the central plasticity in chronic pain. Neuropathic pain is a type of severe chronic pain and can be strongly influenced by emotional components. Plastic changes in the CeA may play a key role in the development or maintenance or both of neuropathic pain. We studied the expression levels of proteins in the CeA of spinal nerve transection (SNT) model rats. Total tissue lysate proteins were separated by two-dimensional-gel electrophoresis (2D-PAGE). Gels from different time points were compared using Progenesis SameSpot software, and the spots with Fold Change greater than 2 were excised for protein identification by mass spectrometry. We identified more than 50 cytosolic proteins as significantly altered in their expression levels in the CeA of SNT rats, and most of these changes have been validated at mRNA levels by qRT-PCR. We also identified more than 40 membrane proteins as notably up- or down-regulated in the CeA of SNT model rats relative to a control using stable isotope dimethyl labeling nano-LC-MS/MS based proteomics and found that one such protein, doublecortin (DCX), a microtubule-associated protein expressed by neuronal precursor cells during development, is specifically localized in the membrane fraction without changes in total amount of the protein. Immunohistochemistry showed that doublecortin is expressed in processes in the CeA of rats 7 and 21 days after SNT surgery, suggesting that doublecortin is one of the proteins that may contribute to the plastic changes, namely, redevelopment or rewiring of neural networks, in the CeA in the neuropathic pain model. These dysregulated proteins may play roles in reciprocal relationships between pain and psychological distress in the amygdala and contribute to central sensitization. Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD017473.

Original publication




Journal article


J Proteome Res

Publication Date





1592 - 1619


LC-MS/MS, amygdala, mass spectrometry, neuropathic pain, proteomic, spinal nerve transection, stable isotope dimethyl labeling